NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs



OPERATIONAL ERROR AT CLEVELAND AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL CENTER
June 23, 1998

August 14, 1998

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating an operational error that occurred in the Cleveland Air Route Traffic Control Center on June 23, 1998. Information gathered by Safety Board investigators follows:

At approximately 4:01 P.M. on June 23, 1998, a Piper Navajo enroute from Elmira, New York, to Akron, Ohio, and a Navy E-2 Hawkeye enroute from Norfolk, Virginia, to Wellsville, New York, passed within two miles laterally and 100 feet vertically at 16,000 feet 20 miles southwest of Bradford, Pennsylvania. The standard separation is five miles apart or 1,000 feet vertically. Neither aircraft reported taking evasive action, and there were no injuries.

The aircraft were under the control of the Cleveland ARTCC Bradford sector, which is responsible for flights operating up to 27,000 feet. During the period immediately surrounding the incident, the three controllers assigned to the sector were responsible for 25 to 30 aircraft. The workload was very high due to thunderstorms in the area, and there was also holding in progress for New York area arrivals.

The Board continues reviewing and analyzing radar data and air traffic control communications and is continuing to interview involved FAA personnel during this on-going investigation. Issues identified by the Board for investigation to date are:

- Adequacy of management of air traffic control sector workload;

- Effectiveness of FAA traffic management policies, procedures, and automation systems;

- Cleveland ARTCC facility management practices;

- FAA processes used to identify and report operational errors;

- Effectiveness of FAA air traffic quality assurance programs.

As with all NTSB investigations, safety recommendations can be issued at any time.

 

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.